Sunday, February 15, 2009

Running a newspaper business in China

A recent Editor and Publisher post on tougher regulations on journalists in China reminded me that their is plenty of coverage in Western media on censorship issues in China, but not much on the business.

However, the media business in China, especially in print, is fascinating. The points of interest comes down to two things.
  1. Numbers. My company just picked up two publications in China with circulations in the millions. Of course, classifieds and advertising is crowded and is characterized by much lower CPM. Moreover, newspapers have grown accustomed to working with hundreds of media agencies, and maintain a love hate relationship with them.
  2. Regulation and censorship. Maintaining strict control over mainstream media has been Communist Party doctrine since its founding. However, maintaining that control has become complicated as (1) relatively recent commercial pressures means journalists must forever push the barriers on acceptable content in order to attract audiences, and (2) the Internet is damn hard to censor--there is a huge difference in not being able to publish something at all, and publishing something that gets deleted later after lots of people have already viewed it.
For general insight on the media business in China, this guide is a good start. In future posts I will look at the Internet strategies employed by China's newspapers.

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